The WAC Foundation
The WAC Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, exists to preserve and enhance the WAC Clubhouse, built in 1930 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Donations to the foundation are tax deductible and directly fund Clubhouse improvement projects. For additional details on the foundation, please see our FAQs, here. The story below was first published in the November/December 2019 edition of WAC Magazine.
HOW TO HELP PRESERVE THE CLUBHOUSE WITH YOUR TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS
foundation (noun): 1. The base on which a building rests 2. A fundamental principle 3. An organization established to help finance an institution
—Summarized from Webster’s New World College Dictionary
Rarely do three meanings of a single word so perfectly encapsulate an idea. But for the WAC Foundation—a new charitable nonprofit established to preserve and enhance the physical structure of the WAC Clubhouse—that’s exactly the case.
Our home base
Recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the WAC Clubhouse stands as a beacon of Seattle’s early history. For WAC members, it’s also something else. “The Clubhouse is key to fulfilling the mission of the WAC—to enrich the quality of our lives,” says Tammy Young, Chair of the WAC Foundation board. “It’s a home away from home for each of us as members. And like any home, it needs care and attention.”
The WAC Clubhouse joined the National Register of Historic Places in 2018, and work on the WAC Foundation—established to protect and advance the WAC structure beyond the Club’s operating and capital budgets—immediately gained steam.
Opened in 1930 and once the third-tallest building in the city, the WAC Clubhouse plays a significant role in Seattle’s early architectural history. “The Washington Athletic Club never fails to impress and inspire,” says well-known Seattle historian Jean Sherrard, co-author of the book Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred.
Featuring art deco detailing inside and out as well as a striking façade and distinctive terra cotta ornamentation, the Clubhouse represents an extinct era of architecture—form never giving way to function.
“The WAC is a soaring touchstone that keeps us grounded in beauty, elegance and tradition,” Sherrard continues, calling the Clubhouse “a beloved art deco masterpiece.”
But like all masterpieces, care, work and … yes … money are required to ensure the future. For the WAC Clubhouse, now entering its 90th year, the decade ahead will prove critical.
“This is an opportunity unlike anything in WAC history,” says WAC President & CEO Chuck Nelson, who also sits on the WAC Foundation board. “Caretaking and enhancing the WAC’s home through the foundation is an honor and a responsibility for all of us—staff and membership.”
A stone plaque at the Clubhouse entrance elucidates the WAC’s founding principle:
This building is dedicated to the advancement of the amateur athletic and social activities of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.
Whether through competitive athletics or the continual fitness, wellness and social programs that enrich members’ lives, the Washington Athletic Club has always focused on helping members perform to their highest potential.
“I continue to be amazed how the words on the dedication plaque are timeless,” says Melissa Borders, former Vice President of WAC Club Programs.
Melissa is also a WAC Foundation board member and hopes WAC members will realize the importance of contributing to the preservation and enhancement of the Clubhouse.
“In order to keep progressing in the way that we want to, we need to get the membership more involved,” she says. “And the cool thing is that members can be a part of that by donating to the foundation. Talk about pride of ownership!”
One of Melissa’s favorite pastimes is exploring WAC history and revisiting black-and-white photos from the Club’s early years. “The Club just keeps re-energizing itself,” she says. “The WAC Foundation is an opportunity for all members to step up and get involved and give.”
As the foundation looks to highlight the Clubhouse’s historic significance and enhance the building’s interior and exterior, an initial list of projects is taking shape, from uplighting the façade to expanding the Voogd Library to completely cleaning the outside of the Clubhouse. Foundation donations will go to immediate use.
“This isn’t about building a big fund and endowment to sit in the bank,” Chuck says. “We have projects we want to get moving on right away. Members can count on their donations getting to work very quickly.”
—Written by Darrick Meneken. To learn more, visit our history page.